12-years-old Prosperity –Prosper–, Redding is not like the rest of his famous and ambitious family members. He’s often bullied, doesn’t do well in school, and his relationship with his twin sister, Prue, is drifting even further apart. However, although his family is extremely wealthy and powerful, there’s a dark, hidden secret that is credited to the family’s fame. One of his ancestors made a deal with a demon many years ago for fame and glory in exchange for their souls. Like most contracts, the deal was broken. Now, the demon is hellbent on taking the family down. And Prosper is his first victim.
OK, so maybe you won’t need a nightlight after reading this book, but if you’re like me and are easily scared, then maybe you will. Alexandra Bracken, known for two series: The Darkest Minds and Passenger, has done a terrific job appealing to her readers’ imagination with her middle-grade book, The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding. Though this book is geared towards young readers, Bracken’s writing style is perfectly balanced for all ages — yes; adults will get a kick out of this read, too. Bracken incorporates high diction while keeping a simplistic tone so that her young readers can easily follow. I appreciate her decision to do this because she doesn’t insult her readers by over-explaining or defining things like most middle-grade books, but instead, she’s confident in her readers’ knowledge and she slightly challenges them. Not bad, huh?
The other things I must mention about this spooky novel are the speed and theme. First off, Bracken obviously had a lot of fun with all the mysteries and plot twists she used in this book. The story unfolds slowly to build anticipation, but quickly keeps readers fully invested. Two big messages stand out in this story. The first is to push forward and seek ways to achieve your dreams. Prosper believed that he wasn’t good at anything, but with the help of an unlikely ally, he discovers that he can accomplish whatever he puts his mind to if he just tries his hardest. The second message (and my favorite) is that girls are strong and capable of doing anything — even playing the role of a guy in a school play.
Overall, I enjoyed this publication immensely even if I had to sleep with the TV on. Though I believe this book is a little dark for middle grade, it’s packed with great humor and encouraging messages which make for an enjoyable Halloween read.
Have you read this book? If so, be sure to let me know in the comment section which character was your favorite. For me, it’s so Alastor!